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infused vodka ideas?

A friend of mine is having an Infusion party where guests are supposed to be super creative and infuse their own vodka and then make a cocktail with it. We were joking that a fried chicken infused vodka would be yummy with a mashed potato rim and a gravy back. But then I heard abou a bacon infused vodka that was being served in New York City!

I loves me some creative cocktails. Just returned from a San Francisco/Portland vacation and kept tabs of all my cocktails. Here's a list if you want to track them down next time you are in one of those cities:


What are your ideas for the Infusion party? Need inspiration!

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  1. This might be better on the spirits board

    1. Vodka infusions are the subject of several discussions - search the "Spirits" board and you'll find many, many ideas. Any fruit, vegetable, herb, or spice will work - combining them leads to an almost infinite number of permutations. Personally, the vodka infusion I most enjoyed was watermelon and togarashi. Truth be told, I find infusions made with rum, bourbon, and tequila more interesting. You may want to try something like that as well.

      1. My friend has done the KFC Martini with the glass rimmed with the mashed potatoes.

        One thing that you need to do is to chill the infusion at the end -- ice cold in the freezer -- so the fat congeals and can be strained out. Otherwise, it will be floating on the top of the drink and look a bit unsavory.

        For fruit/vegetable/herb-based infusion, this last step is unnecessary although filtration through a coffee filter is recommended.

        My personal favorite infusion has been nasturtium. I usually skip infusions and only make syrups since it is cheaper to make and discard (booze becomes expensive and eventually your bar will be full of things you no longer use but are hesitant to dump). Although infusions work better with some ingredients than syrups do, and infusions are necessary if you're trying for a dry-balanced drink.

        1 Reply
        1. re: yarm

          Yeah but .. yeah, but ... yeah, but ....

          I hear what you're saying about infused syrup instead of alcohol, but aren't there some flavor compounds that work better with alcohol instead of sugar? Me, I dunno, but I watch Alton Brown expounding on how to deglaze with wine to bring out those alcohol-soluble flavors, and I wonder - isn't there are reason why I love my infused vodkas more than my infused sugar syrups?

          Me, I'd probably choose vodka for fruits, veggies (gonna try a tomato vodka soon), and meats. But I can see using a sugar syrup for herbs and spices (my current favorites are hibiscus and saffron - though not together). Might there be an underlying chemical reason for this preference?


        2. Skittles infused vodka is an internet phenomenon, but be careful, because two many Skittles = a thick overly-sweet booze. I know some people who've done Jolly Rancher vodka, which comes out clearer and requires less straining. I found it to taste a lot more like medicine, and some of the flavors were sour. If you're looking for something without candy, google "bacon-infused vodka".

          2 Replies
          1. re: TheCurricane

            Skittles infused vodka is a silly kiddie drink. As for the fat washed bacon, that was invented by friends of mine and they used whiskey. It's not my favorite thing, but not terrible either. In vodka the flavors are too pronounced and it isn't that good. I tried it and wouldn't repeat it.

            1. re: JMF

              I wouldn't call it kiddie, but it's certainly not a mature drink. Great for parties as a conversation piece or rainbow shots.

              Also bacon-infused whiskey sounds awesome. What kind of whiskey?

          2. Recently I had a blue cheese fat washed whiskey, and a cheddar cheese fat washed whiskey at my friends Liquid Lab. Interesting, not my personal favs.

            1. I'm wondering if I could pull off a delicate rose petal cardamom infusion...

              9 Replies
              1. re: Vetter

                You need a lot of rose petals, but they can work well. Expect a flavor halfway between what rose smells like, and a bitter lwettuce. A short infusion time of a few hours is best. Cardamom can be overwhelming. A small amount and just an hours time infusing works well. If you want delicate then just a trace of cardamom is all you need.

                1. re: Vetter

                  I had an amazing drink made with rose infused vodka in Mill Valley last year . . . when I quizzed the bartender, he said they infused their own vodka and used rose hips (not petals) . . . this sounded easy, and I wrote a note to self to try it, but haven't yet. The bartender's result was heavenly though!

                  1. re: vday

                    Uhhhh, if it actually tasted like the typical wonderful rose flower scent, then they were not telling you the truth. Rose hips taste NOTHING like roses and would not lend very much flavor to an infusion.

                    Rose hips have a very mild, citrus like taste that would lend very little to an infusion. Even the jam, typically made from rose hips is kind of mild, and in my opinion boring, and totally lacking in the typical floral rose flavor.

                    Rose petal jam is a different matter entirely and can be spectacular stuff.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      Yes, the taste and scent was of rose flower. I will have to re-think how to get a similar product from home infusion. I suppose I should look for a very fragrant organic rose bush and find a way to get lots of flower petals . . .

                      1. re: vday

                        Buying rose water is easier, and the quality is better. I have made hundreds of tinctures and some times it's better to use something commercial. I actually have a "flavor library" of at last count 215 different botanicals infused into tinctures.

                        1. re: JMF

                          can you recommend a brand? I tried one a while back that didn't seem to have much umph.

                          1. re: vday

                            I have the Al Wadi brands of rose and orange blossom waters, from Lebanon.

                            1. re: JMF

                              thanks JMF - I will look for these . . .

                        2. re: vday

                          Heck, I know an Armenian grocery store here in Boston that has beautiful dried rose petals, but agree that the commercial rose water products are really good stuff.

                  2. Here are my two favorites-

                    ground black pepper and lemon zest
                    sliced jalapenos

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: EWSflash

                      Sloeberry vodka? Pin cherry? Chestnut? Rhubarb/strawberry? Gooseberry? Lavender has been done. Cantaloupe would rock. I knew a guy who used cinnamon altoids it was good.

                      1. re: TheDewster

                        Melon doesn't infuse very well. It oxidizes too quickly, you have to use lemon juice or citric acid. the only time it came out ok was when I did a very short infusion time, just a few hours, and in the fridge, with no air space in the container.

                        1. re: JMF

                          I did a clear rum watermelon infusion by letting it steep in the fridge, then ran it through a coffee filter before bottling. I kept the bottle in the fridge before we took it to the party so I don't know if it would have any sort of proper shelf life.

                          1. re: JMF

                            I should have been more specific, I meant musk and firm type melons like cantaloupe, crenshaw, and honeydew and such. Watermelon is a different creature.

                      2. My favorites: ginger (peel fresh root and slice thin)
                        Horseradish (my personal favorite)
                        Meyer lemon
                        I infused each of these in Russian Standard vodka, and left them for a week or so in a dark closet, tasting every few days.

                        1. Skin and slice up some pears, and add some vanilla beans to a few mason jars, cover them with vodka, and seal them up for a month. The vodka comes out pretty decent.

                          I've done the same thing with vodka poured over layers of pickled olives, okra, cocktail onions, pole beans, and banana peppers (like a veggie antipasto). After a month or so, the liquor makes a pretty good Gibson...

                          1. Every winter I make Swedish glogg by infusing some vodka with cardammom, star anise, cinnamon sticks and dried clementine peels. After it steeps a week or two, strain and put it in a pot with a bottle or two of cheap dry red wine, some more cinnamon sticks and 1/2 cup (or to taste) sugar and heat it up (but don't boil!). Serve in Irish coffee glasses over a teaspoon of raisins and a teaspoon of blanched almond slivers. You and your friends will be warm till May.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Poindexter

                              what a cool recipe; thnx so much for that!

                              question: you're specific on other measurements; how much vodka? and how much other? (vodka should be twice? thrice? the height of the spice mix . and infusing in frig or closet?

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                You're welcome. I'm never too specific on the measurements but would say maybe 3/4 cup vodka to each bottle of vino. And make sure that the vodka covers the spice mixture when it's in a jar. You also can add a fresh mixture of the the same spices, in a cheesecloth, to the vodka/wine/sugar mixture as it heats up.

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  ...infused in the fridge, though it prolly doesn't make a difference.

                              2. Variations on the traditional akvavit flavors are usually winners:anise, caraway, star anise, coriander, dill, fennel, cloves. Dried Chinese tangerine peel is also nice with star anise for a Sichuan palette.

                                1. a little past the season - -but pumpkin pie - - sliced pumpkin, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean and candied ginger - -- serve with amaretto for a pumpkin pie martini

                                  1. you might enjoy this new one i've been making, after one served at The Black Trumpet in Portsmouth N.H.:
                                    Begin: Slightly crush 8 or so green cardamom pods; put in 750 ml of white rum and let sit 3 days mimimum.
                                    Cardamom Rum with Lime and Green Tea

                                    8 ou. cardamom infused white rum
                                    4 ou. lime juice
                                    4 ou. strong green tea (i use powdered green tea)
                                    2 ou. thick simple syrup made w/ lots of sliced ginger(no need to peel)

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      I actually found this post while I was looking for that exact recipe. My favorite restaurant up north!! Our server gave me the recipe, but after a couple - I couldn't remember the exacts!! Thanks for posting.

                                      1. re: zatune

                                        zatune, so psyched that you're psyched! i'm still drinking it this winter, just less frequently. BT's bar manager,Marion(sp), is so talented! (just fyi, the recipe is what i worked out from her description.). I don't know where you live and drink, but the special drinks at Myers+Chang in Boston- are really terrific. (I'm a fan of major limey/not too sweet drinks that go well w/ asian foods and grilled foods.)

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                          BTW - How long do you infuse the rum with cardamom? My first attempt at this drink fell short - for many reasons. Funny you mentioned lime drinks - my next project is going to be lime-cello. (Also going to attempt grapefruit-cello).

                                          1. re: zatune

                                            i add a bunch(2-4T) of mushed pods to the large rum bottle, and leave them in there. I said at least 3 days in the recipe, but maybe it needs to be longer. From that master bottle, i make a 1 qt. batch of drink and include1-3 pods card.That usually lasts me 2-3 dinners. spread out.

                                            funny you mention limecello. Marion at Bl Trumpet also gave me her recipe for limoncello.I think it calls for a whole case of lemons. BOY that would be expensive w/ limes! Makes me think it would be worth it to try to pick up the refuse lime or lemon shells from a local co. that provides squeezed citrus juice to bars. I'm guessing they toss the shells because i've not heard of bulk citrus zest as an available product in the local restnt world.I'm in Boston.)

                                      2. A bit off the intended topic, but I've been making my own mouth rinse. I use an inhaler and need to thoroughly rinse my mouth with about 20% alcohol (which is around what the slightly less alcoholic commercial mouthwashes are). I don't care for the artificial sweeteners in commercial mouthwash.

                                        For a while, I was using up some 70% Centerbe, an unsweetened herbal spirit whose flavor I didn't like for cocktails. That took a while. Then I tried star anise and cloves in cachaca,but found the cachaca flavor too much to bear first thing in the morning. I just made 750mll of 20% ABV mouthwash with Gordon's vodka and the same star anise and clove. Cheap, but getting a little bored.

                                        I'm thinking that I need some new flavor ideas based on easy-to-obtain spices and sugarless flavors. Fennel maybe? Anyone else doing something as crazy as this?

                                        www.kindredcocktails.com | No mouthwash recipes, I promise.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          Heck, throw a little eucalyptus in there, and I am thinking bergamot peel, dried mint etc etc.

                                          I'd use it over commercial mouth wash in a heartbeat... in fact, you may have inspired my next project.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Also, don't want to overdo the eucalyptus, just googled and can be toxic in large quantities...

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              So toxic it can make you look like a monster:

                                              Use permitted by WikiCommons license, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fri...

                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                Hah, that's what happened to me last time I ate too much!

                                          2. re: EvergreenDan

                                            well, dan, how about cardamom? or spearmint extract?citrus? i might suggest you look for ideas at Tom's toothpaste flavors, and Indian 'mouth refresher' recipes of spices etc.Fennel sounds great to me, w/ orange............

                                          3. There's a restaurant in London that serves cannabis infused vodka (it appears to be legal over there). Not sure how they make it but everone who tried it got the giggles.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: kagemusha49

                                              Pretty sure most of the active ingredient WOULD in fact be soluble in ethanol...

                                              1. re: kagemusha49

                                                I imagine this is something like the hemp beer you can find in the US that is legal because it is made from industrial hemp seeds that have no psychoactive properties. They go after people's false perceptions just like the marketing for absinthe.